Appalachian State University leaders are currently planning the logistics of parking and traffic for the football team’s first-ever Thursday night games, scheduled Oct. 22 and Nov. 5 next fall.
The scheduling of two Thursday evening games is dictated in part by ASU’s new conference, the Sun Belt, and its television contracts. Both games — Oct. 22 vs. longtime rival Georgia Southern and Nov. 5 vs. Arkansas State — are slated for airtime on ESPNU.
A 7 or 8 p.m. kickoff could present challenges for a parking-strapped campus as football fans begin arriving to tailgate Thursday afternoon. Yosef Club members contribute thousands each year in exchange for reserved game day parking in spaces that serve ASU’s academic buildings and student residence halls. Vehicles left in designated tailgating lots are at risk of being towed during pre-game hours.
“The Athletics Department has been working with both university and town leaders to develop a plan that will make those days successful from both an academic standpoint and an athletics standpoint, as well as make it as convenient as possible for area residents and the thousands of alumni and fans that will visit campus and town,” said Mike Flynn, ASU Athletics spokesman.
Flynn said meetings about weeknight game logistics began even before ASU’s football schedule was finalized in late February.
“We hope to have a final plan that can be communicated to all constituencies very soon,” he said.
The Sun Belt anticipates that ESPN will announce game times for the two nationally televised games in July, he added.
Faculty Senate Chairman Andy Koch on Monday spoke with faculty senators about the negotiations. Koch said the Athletics Department originally proposed canceling classes beginning at noon on those Thursdays but that academic leaders were opposed to canceling classes so early in the day. He speculated that vehicles would be required to be moved from designated tailgating lots around 4 or 5 p.m.
One faculty senator asked about the possibility of a makeup day for classes impacted by the two Thursday games.
Flynn confirmed that a Thursday home game is a first for ASU.
“Appalachian State has played a handful of Thursday games over the years, including as recently as last year at Georgia Southern, but this will be the first Thursday game at home,” said Flynn. “However, Appalachian State has recently hosted nationally televised games on Friday nights — Dec. 7, 2007, vs. Richmond and Oct. 31, 2008, vs. Wofford.”
For the Friday night contest vs. Wofford in 2008, ASU allowed fans to begin accessing reserved parking lots at 3 p.m. and began towing vehicles without game day parking passes at 5 p.m., according to news archives.